skip to primary navigationskip to content

Hydrocarbon Recovery

Hydrocarbon recovery research within the energy initiative is carried out across a number of departments and research groups at the University of Cambridge.

The research area includes:

  • New techniques for upstream exploration of fossil fuel resources and enhanced oil recovery techniques.
  • Modelling of oil recovery processes
  • Development of new approaches to remote monitoring of oil-water flow patterns
  • Exploitation  of novel surface chemistry to maximise oil output from reservoirs
  • Physical solutions to oil recovery such as the optimisation of controlled hydraulic fracturing for ‘tight gas’ reservoirs.


Some key research centres include:

Research on surfaces and particles include: cracking of surface films; colloidosomes; surface chemistry and shape changing particles. The Institute also focuses on the fundamental fluid mechanics of multi-phase flows with particular interest including turbulent mixing and plumes; surface tension modelling; dissolution and convection; oil and gas flows in porous rocks; and volcanic flows and turbidites.


We collaborate with industrial partners and are also actively involved in increasing both energy awareness and public understanding of the opportunities and challenges in hydrocarbon recovery.

Please visit individual faculty profiles to learn more about their research in the Hydrocarbon Recovery theme.  The lead for Hydrocarbon Recovery is .

People specializing in this area

Principal Investigators

Professor Abir Al-Tabbaa


  • CO2 sequestration via mineral carbonation
  • CO2 sequestration in industrial by-products, residues and wastes
  • Stability of wellbore cementitious systems in CO2 rich environment (e.g. associated with CO2 injection and storage in deep saline aquifers and depleted oil and gas reservoirs)
  • Integrated CO2 capture and sequestration systems 
  • Applications of MgO in chemical looping
  • Geological and seawater CO2 sequestration
  • Carbon capture with desalination brine and other by-products
Professor Emilio Artacho

Theoretical simulation of processes relevant to carbon capture mainly at the water/solid interface

Professor Mike Bickle, FRS

Research on geological carbon storage including natural CO2 storage, injection experiments and imaging and modelling storage

Professor Stewart Cant

Combustion modelling and simulation; combustion CFD; two-phase flow modelling and simulation; petrochemical plant explosion safety case analysis

Dr. Colm-Cille Caulfield

Fluid flows where density variations play a critical dynamical role

Dr Stuart Dalziel

Fluid dynamics of the environment

Dr David Fairen-Jimenez

Molecular mechanisms that control adsorption processes in porous materials

Professor Derek Fray, FRS, FREng

1.  Examining the possibility of capturing the carbon dioxide evolved from alakaline fuel cells by mineralisation

2.  The use of carbon dioxide to upgrade potassium poor minerals

Professor Herbert Huppert

Fluid mechanics of carbon dioxide sequestration.

Professor R. Vasant Kumar

Electrochemical redox reactions at the interface of electrodes and electrolytes and morphology of electrodic materials

Dr. Jie Li

Computational fluid dynamics, mostly dealing with interfaces at low Reynolds number.

Dr. Dongfang Liang

Scour and liquefaction around offshore structures, tsunami wave propagation, run-up and impact on coastal structures, flood risk modelling, turbulent mixing and water quality modelling

Professor Robert Mair

Underground Construction, Urban Infrastructure Renewal and Innovative Sensor Technologies for Infrastructure Monitoring

Professor Epaminondas Mastorakos

Combustion and reacting flows

Dr. Jerome Neufeld

Fluid dynamics of the earth in a host of geophysical settings

Professor Simon Redfern

Mineral Dynamics

Dr. David Michael Reiner
  • Public understanding of the subsurface, attitudes towards conventional and unconventional fossil fuels
  • Political and social acceptability of CCS infrastructure based on stakeholder surveys and public opinion surveys on four continents; regulation and economics of CCS; and CCS deployment in developing countries
  • Member of Steering Committee of International Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas Programme Social Research Network
  • Member of European Commission Zero Emission Platform Task Force on Public Communications
  • Member of CATO-2 (Dutch national CCS programme) Advisory Board
Professor Alexander Routh

Research in colloid science and fluid mechanics

Dr. Stuart Scott
  • Combustion, gasification and pyrolysis
  • Chemical looping combustion
  • Reactor and process modelling
Professor Nedunchezhian Swaminathan

Energy and Environment,  Combustion modelling and physics and the impact of combustion on the environment.

Dr. Alex White

Two-phase flow (especially  vapour-droplet flows), the thermodynamics of power generation,  Computational Fluid Dynamics, and heat pumps.

Professor Nicky White

Vertical Motions, River Drainage and Mantle Convection

Professor Robert White

Passive seismic network in the volcanic zones of north and central Iceland

Professor Andy Woods

Fluid flow processes, many including phase changes. The character of the work includes both theoretical analysis and experimental modelling.